Digital experience design has been strongly influenced by three classical design disciplines: Architecture, Industrial Design and Graphic Design. These design disciplines have brought in centuries of learnings and practices that helped us very quickly build our discipline.
At the same time, we also inherited the historic debris that these disciplines have accumulated in the past. We have the worst traits of the Old Designer. We have creator’s egos, we throw tantrums when our designs don’t get implemented exactly how we envisioned it, in the timeline we want. We look down on designers who didn’t have the same training as we did. We mentor them only to the extent that they can’t be better than us. We demand a seat at the table, often without doing the necessary work to earn that seat.
In benefitting from the knowledge of the past, we fail to recognize that we are designers in a new society.
It is time to reflect on what it means to be a designer in this new ecosystem. We are not craftspeople, saviors of society, or creators of magnum opuses – like the Old Designers were. We should be designers that thrive on sharing, that can support communities, that are open to new approaches, that can produce work without having to show off. We should be designers that are humble and sensitive – so that we do not design for harm, inequality and exploitation. We should hold ourselves and colleagues accountable for these new ideals of design.
Making this transition is hard because it starts with our fragile selves. In this talk, I compare the Old and the New Designer, and offer personal tips about how we can rethink the role of the designer in digital experience design to be more inclusive, transformative, and humble.